J.J. Abrams, who has just come off directing the most successful Star Wars film in the franchise’s history, is now working with Google on another space project.
Abrams has teamed with Google (GOOGL) to produce a “documentary web series” called Moon Shot about Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, the company announced on Thursday. The series will follow some of the teams hoping to win the lion’s share of Google’s $30 million prize for successfully landing a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500 meters, and send high-definition videos and images back to Earth.
The first team to achieve its mission will win $20 million while the second team will win $5 million. The remaining $5 million will be distributed to teams that hit several milestones, including landing, mobility, and imaging.
Google’s Lunar XPRIZE was announced back in 2007 to bolster entrepreneurial interest in space exploration. Google says that it picked the moon as the teams’ destination because of its “exciting opportunities for discovery in the fields of science, technology, resource detection and utilization, and human habitation.”
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Since then, 19 teams from around the world have signed on to try to reach the moon. Teams have until the end of this year to obtain a verified launch contract, meaning they have the rocket ready to send their rover to the moon. Next year, the teams will compete to be the first to reach the moon. The competition will end on Dec. 31, 2017, regardless of whether a team has actually succeeded in its mission.
Bringing Abrams aboard gives the documentary some much-needed star power. Abrams has most recently directed the wildly popular and record-shattering Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film was the first in the famed Star Wars franchise to not be directed by the franchise’s creator George Lucas. It was, however, widely lauded by critics and dedicated fans, alike.
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Abrams’ involvement in Moon Shot is in keeping with his apparent interest in space. In addition to Star Wars, Abrams was also involved in Star Trek films over the last several years. He’ll also be executive producer on the next Star Wars film.
While Moon Shot won’t depict fictitious characters, it will follow some of the teams competing for Google’s prize across nine episodes. A trailer suggests the show will be focus on team members and follow them on their journey to the moon.
“This character-driven, emotional, awe-inspiring series of 9 short films will follow a selection of the teams currently racing to complete their missions,” Google said in a statement. “It will explore the lives of their charismatic, quirky members, the sacrifices they have made to get to where they are today, and crucially, what drives them on this incredible journey.”
Moon Shot is slated to take off on March 15 as a free download on the Google Play marketplace. It’ll premiere on YouTube on March 17.